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J Bacteriol. 2007 Mar;189(6):2411-6. Epub 2007 Jan 12.

Interrelationships between colonies, biofilms, and planktonic cells of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1QW, United Kingdom.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a gram-negative bacterium and an opportunistic human pathogen that causes chronic infections in immunocompromised individuals. These infections are hard to treat, partly due to the high intrinsic resistance of the bacterium to clinically used antibiotics and partly due to the formation of antibiotic-tolerant biofilms. The three most common ways of growing bacteria in vitro are as planktonic cultures, colonies on agar plates, and biofilms in continuous-flow systems. Biofilms are known to express genes different from those of planktonic cells, and biofilm cells are generally believed to closely resemble planktonic cells in stationary phase. However, few, if any, studies have examined global gene expression in colonies. We used a proteomic approach to investigate the interrelationships between planktonic cells, colonies, and biofilms under comparable conditions. Our results show that protein profiles in colonies resemble those of planktonic cells. Furthermore, contrary to what has been reported previously, the protein profiles of biofilms were found to more closely resemble those of exponentially growing planktonic cells than those of planktonic cells in the stationary phase. These findings raise some intriguing questions about the true nature of biofilms.

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